Monday, March 12, 2018

Marisol's Magic Mirror Trip

                                      Marisol’s Magic Mirror Trip
                                        By Valerie L. Egar
           Marisol knew she had curly chestnut hair, blue eyes and dimples. These weren’t likely to change, so she didn’t look in the mirror every time she walked by. She could find her face and wash it without a mirror’s help. She even fixed her hair without a mirror. A quick shake of her head and her short curly hair fell into place perfectly. Marisol didn’t care much about mirrors, until she saw the Venetian glass mirror in Aunt Lucy’s house.
            “This is where you’ll sleep,” Aunt Lucy said, opening the door to a large room. A large antique bed with a lacy canopy and embroidered coverlet looked soft and inviting. Marisol sat on the bed to test it and saw the mirror on the wall across from the bed. Small mirrors, in the shapes of scrolls and shields, surrounded a large oval mirror. Sunlight danced on the glass and the room sparkled. Marisol took a closer look.
            She saw the mirror was old— silver had worn off a few tiny spots. Each small mirror was etched with flowers and vines and glowed like small jewels.
        “You like the mirror,” said Aunt Lucy. 
Marisol nodded.
 “Your Great Uncle Julius bought it in an antique shop in Venice many years ago. The shopkeeper told him it was from a palazzo.”
“A castle?”
“More like a big house. A mansion.”
“How old is it?”
Aunt Lucy shrugged. “Three hundred years? Something like that.”
            That night, instead of going to sleep Marisol sat in bed and stared at the mirror. Moonlight shone through the window and instead of throwing sparkles like the sunlight, it made a silver path into the mirror. Marisol followed the path and found herself floating like a feather in the wind.
            She landed with a thump next to a wide canal and noticed men standing at the back of narrow boats, guiding them through the canal. “I think those are gondolas,” thought Marisol. “I must be in Venice.” She looked around.
People lined up, waiting for a gondola. They appeared to be dressed for a costume party. The women wore old-fashioned long silk dresses trimmed with jewels. The men wore colorful brocade jackets with fancy shirts trimmed with lace and fitted dark pants. Everybody wore masks.

Marisol realized she must look out of place in her blue pajamas, and looked at her clothes. She was wearing a sea green silk gown, trimmed with gold. She also wore a mask. She stood in line with the others.
 A young man said something to her in Italian. She shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
“Ah, you are British,” he said.
“I’m American.”
“What is American?” he asked. “You are from the colony so far away?”
Marisol looked around again. She realized there were no electric lights in any building. Here and there, a lantern burned. In the distance, someone carried a torch. No motors hummed. No TVs blared.
“What year is it?”
The man laughed. “1706.”  He helped Marisol into a gondola. “Tonight you will enjoy the finest party of the year at Palazzo Leoni. You will see a special marvel the Doge unveils tonight.”
Music filled the air from the palazzo’s open windows as Marisol stepped from the gondola. Violins played a lively tune. The ballroom was lit with hundreds of candles in silver candelabras and chandeliers. People danced. Marisol stood at the edge of the room and watched. She enjoyed the spectacle, 

but she worried how she was going to get home. “I have to find the mirror,” she thought, suspecting it was close by.
The music stopped. A man stood at the front of the room. Next to him, a large oval was covered with fabric. He said something Marisol couldn’t understand and pulled the fabric off. The mirror! This was the marvel people had come to see.
 Everyone clapped. “It is beautiful is it not?” the man who had helped Marisol into the gondola said. “You do not have such things in the colonies?”
“Not yet,” said Marisol. 

She followed the candlelight’s gleam into the mirror and landed, thump! back into bed.

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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published March 11, 2018 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

Monday, March 5, 2018

Lt. Elbar's Report to Planet Pexlia

                                     Lt. Elbar’s Report to Planet Pexlia
                                             By Valerie L. Egar

To: Madam Zina Isk, Honored President of Planet Pexlia
From: Lt. Kiak Elbar, Galaxy Explorer
Date: Alowar 16, Pexlian Year, 3022
          After landing the Pexlia Superzoom Spacecraft in an uninhabited area, I reduced its size with Regulation 940 spray and secured it in my pocket. I made my way to a settlement to discover what I could about the creatures that inhabit this planet.
         When I arrived at what I believed to be a dwelling, my trusty DNA calibrator advised rearranging my DNA into a small creature called  “mouse.” In this disguise, I was able to slip into the dwelling to observe the creatures inside.
          Four furless creatures that walk on two legs, and cover their bodies with layers of synthetic outer skins, which they call “clothes,” live in the dwelling. All of them amused themselves with various electronic devices. I observed them scroll through pictures, watch pictures that move, and use their thumbs to communicate. They referred to this as “texting.”  Sometimes they talked into the devices.
Another electronic device blared in a room they call “den” and one of the creature watched it and manipulated the small electronic device at the same time. The loud device is “TV” and it tells the creatures many things over and over, like how to make their teeth clean, wash their bodies and eat certain foods. I have concluded from this that the creatures need much guidance about how to do everyday things and do not learn quickly.
            The group living together in the dwelling are called “family” and are related to each other. They are named Dad, Mom, Becca and Reese. A large furry creature called “Dog” is part of the family group, even though Dog looks nothing like the others and is clearly a different species. It walks on four legs and its hearing and scenting capabilities are far superior to those of the furless creatures. Dog was immediately aware of my presence and barked, but the furless creatures did nothing because they could not hear or smell me.
            I watched for hours and noticed how all of the furless creatures worked to serve Dog. Reese, the smallest creature, brushed Dog. Before the creatures ate, Mom prepared a meal for Dog and fed him. After the meal, Becca took Dog outside and played with him. Later that night, Dad stopped watching TV and took Dog for a walk when Dog scratched at the door. Mom put ice in Dog’s water before she went to bed and Becca gave him a cookie that was made especially for him.
            From my observations, I concluded Dog is the leader of the household and the furless creatures are employed to serve him. These observations were confirmed the following day when upon waking, Mom fed Dog before her furless family. Becca took him for a walk, and then the furless ones rushed off to something called “work” and “school” after petting Dog and telling him to have a good a day. Dog spent his day sleeping on the biggest bed in the house and chewing on a special bone they’d left for him.
            At 13:00 hours, I left the dwelling and rearranged my DNA into my Plexian form and enlarged my spacecraft to prepare for the journey home.  I have established the planet is occupied by intelligent life in the form of Dog and will look forward to discussing further investigation with you upon my return.

Respectfully submitted, Lt. Kiak Elbar, Galaxy Explorer
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published March 4, 2018 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

Monday, February 26, 2018

Trading Places

Trading Places
                                          By Valerie L. Egar

            Matt yawned as he got ready for bed. “Gosh, I wish I didn’t have to go to school tomorrow!” He looked at his Labrador Retriever, Jasper. “You have the life, staying home all day. You ought to go to school!”
            As Matt pulled the covers under his chin, he stared at the full moon glowing outside his window. “I really wish Jasper and I could trade places, just for one day.”
            When Matt awakened, he was surprised to find himself stretched out on the carpet, with paws instead of hands and feet. He shook his head and felt his ears flop back and forth. He looked in his bed. A boy who looked like him was asleep. He nuzzled the boy and woke him up. “Jasper, is that you?”
            Jasper sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Matt?”
            Matt realized his wish had come true. Jasper looked like him and was going to have to go to school. He looked like Jasper and was in for a day of lazing around on the couch. Oh, this was going to be fun!
            “Matt! Breakfast!”
     Jasper fumbled his way through getting dressed, since he’d never worn human clothes before. He was anxious to go downstairs for breakfast. Eggs, bacon, toast. Jasper gulped his breakfast in seconds flat and asked for more.
           “Matt! Where are your manners this morning?”
            “I’m really hungry,” the dog turned human replied.
            The real Matt wagged his tail and circled the table. He was hungry, too.
            “Jasper! Stop begging. Eat your Dog Crunchies.” Matt looked at Jasper’s bowl. Ick. He might look like a dog, but dog food was disgusting. He nudged his best friend who was on second helpings and looked at him with his big brown eyes. He was grateful for the slice of bacon Jasper slipped under the table.
            “I saw that,” said his sister. “You’re not supposed to feed Jasper at the table, Matt!”
Soon the house was empty. Mom and Dad left for work and Jasper and Matt’s sister got on the bus to school. Matt wandered the house. He was still hungry, but he couldn’t open the refrigerator. Mom hadn’t left anything good to eat on the counters. He was thirsty and looked in Jasper’s water bowl. Yuk. He took a few quick laps and reminded himself to wash Jasper’s bowl more often when he turned back into a boy.
            He couldn’t turn the TV on or play video games. Matt looked out the window and watched squirrels.  Squirrels were interesting. He started to think how much fun it might be to chase one. Wait! That’s what Jasper would think. Matt felt confused. He jumped on the couch to nap. Being home all day with nothing to do was boring.

         Meanwhile, Jasper was having a hard time at school. Sitting at a desk for a long time without moving was almost impossible. He’d seen police dogs that could stay in one position patiently, but that wasn’t for him. He stared out the window. A white cat walking across the playground caught his attention. “Look!” he shouted. “A cat! I see a cat!”
            “Matt,” Ms. Bevins said, “What is the matter with you? Quiet, please.”
            The only thing Jasper liked about school was lunch. Sheila ate her sandwich and left the crusts. “Do you mind if I eat those?” he asked. Sheila wrinkled her nose. “If you want them, go ahead.”
            He finished Jana’s yogurt and half of a ham sandwich Jayden didn’t want. He bent to pick up a piece of cookie that had fallen on the floor, but caught himself.  Humans didn’t eat things off the floor. Too bad for them.
            By the time Jasper got back home, he was tired of being human. “Except for the food, going to school is awful.”
Matt wagged his tail. “Being a dog is boring. I can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow.”

            Both of them went to bed early, anxious to change back into boy Matt and dog Jasper.  One day of trading places was enough.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. 

Published February 25, 2018, Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monique's Miniature Service Horse

Monique’s Miniature Service Horse
                                                By Valerie L. Egar
            Mr. Dean held up his hand to quiet his Fifth Grade class. “Are there any more questions for Monique?”
            “Why a horse instead of a dog?” Elle asked.
            Monique smiled. “I’m allergic to dogs. And, when I grow bigger, a dog wouldn’t be strong enough for me to lean on and lift myself up if I fall.” Monique sat at the front of the class next to Mr. Dean, her legs in braces. “I can lean against a horse, hold onto its harness and walk.”
            “And you can ride it, too?”
            “No. Miniature horses are too small to ride.” Monique pointed to Mr. Dean’s desk. “She’s about that high. Small enough to ride in the back of our SUV.”
            The class was excited. They were the only class that was going to have a service horse in their classroom with Monique every day. The horse would help Monique get out of her chair and walk. She would go to the cafeteria with the horse, and to music and art. Everywhere Monique went, the horse would go.           
“Does Mr. Pritchitt know about the horse or do we have to sneak it in?”
Mr. Pritchitt was the school’s principal and everyone knew he was very strict. No running in the halls! No shouting in the cafeteria! What if the horse ate everything on the salad bar at lunch? Nobody could guess what Mr. Pritchitt  would say then.
    “Yes, he knows,” said Mr. Dean. 
            “What if the horse does, you know— on the floor?” giggled Jax. Everybody laughed.
            Mr. Dean rolled his eyes. “The horse is house-broken.”
            “Is she going to sleep in your bed?” Taisha asked.
            “No,” said Monique. “The horse will help me in the house, but she’ll have a nice barn and a fenced yard to run around in. She can’t work all the time.”
            On Monday, Monique arrived at school with Daisy. Daisy was caramel color with a white star on her forehead. She was small, just like Monique said. She wore a bright blue vest that identified her as a service animal. When she had the vest on, that meant she was working to help Monique and no one was allowed to touch her or talk to her except Monique. When the vest was off, Daisy was off-duty and Monique’s classmates could pet her.
            Daisy stood quietly by Monique’s desk all morning. When the class walked to the art room, Monique grasped Daisy’s harness and leaned next to her and the little horse walked in step beside her. Tempting as it was to talk to Daisy or pet her, the class understood she was working and left her alone. It was so hard though! She was small and cute, with big brown eyes and a pretty amber mane that would be so much fun to braid!
Soon it was recess and Daisy walked Monique outside. Monique sat on a long bench and unfastened Daisy’s vest. “Playtime, Daisy.”
The little horse trotted around the playground and then walked back to Monique. Everyone gathered around Daisy and pet her. “Can she have a carrot stick?” Shaun asked. “I saved one from my lunch.”
Daisy crunched on the carrot while Monique’s friends braided her mane. When Monique slipped Daisy’s vest back on, it was back to work. She helped Monique stand and walked her to the classroom.
Day in day out, everyone in school saw Daisy with Monique and Daisy became part of the school’s routines. When Monique dressed as a wizard for Halloween, Daisy dressed as a dragon. Daisy stood on stage next to Monique at the spring concert. She led Monique to the ocean’s edge and stood in the water with her at the class picnic.
On the last day of school, Mr. Dean handed out report cards. He gave Monique two.  One was for Daisy! It said:
Helpfulness: A+
Cooperation: A+
Citizenship   A+
Attendance  A+
Daisy the service horse was a straight A student.

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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.
Published February 18, 2018 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).